The Top 5 Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
It can be overwhelming to choose which marketing strategies are right for you, especially when starting out. Here's my hot list of must-have strategies which allow plenty of flexibility so you can play to your strengths while covering all the bases for the ultimate client relationship:
Start with two attraction strategies to invite the attention of your market, intrigue with appropriate messaging, engage your prospects and move to the buying phase, as well as create positive word of mouth (buzz).
Strategy #1: Lead generation with a follow up sequence: Offer free high-value content such as a report, teleclass, webinar, etc; a contest on social media, at events, trade shows, fairs, markets; response cards at speaking gigs; coupons or Groupons. Be sure to capture prospect contact information so you can stay in touch and build a relationship.
Strategy #2: Networking in real space and time or virtually. Real space/time means referral group meetings, networking meetings, 1:1 meetings with potential power (referral) partners; virtually including social media like Linked In, FaceBook, directories or associations listings.
The second category of strategy is for the acquisition (buying) phase of the process, in which the prospect converts to a happy client, customer or patient.
Strategy #3: The prime directive in sales is to make it EASY, no matter where or how you sell your product, service, experience or information. What does your prospect need to buy easily? Is that help with the decision process with a free consultation, or could it be an easy way to buy at the Farmers Market, like a square to swipe cards, or perhaps an incentive like a gift with purchase? Or maybe you offer early bird discounts with escalating pricing--whatever it is, your sales strategy must speak to the needs and desires of your particular market.
The third category of strategy is retention, which keeps your clients buying again and again, as well as promoting referrals. The two most powerful strategies are:
Strategy #4: Newsletter or some kind of regular (consistent!) client and prospect communication vehicle. Remember that the less work your clients and prospects have to do to notice the communication the better, so I recommend hard copy as the best method because people at least see stuff that comes in the mail, while electronic communication is easier to ignore.
Strategy #5: Referral program: Satisfied clients attract other satisfied clients and referrals lower your new client acquisition costs, which drives profitability. Having a program for systematically asking your clients for referrals and rewarding them creates a win-win-win scenario: Your clients win because they show their appreciation to you with referrals, the prospects they refer win because they are introduced to your delightful products or services by someone they know and trust, and you win because you acquire a new client who is predisposed to be happy with your work and who is profitable right from the start.
Bonus Strategy #6: Loyalty rewards for purchases, like a buy-10-get-one-free card from a sandwich or coffee shop. The beauty of this idea is that your clients are more inclined to stay with you because of the potential reward, rather than go elsewhere for the same product or service. And rewarding customers for purchasing behavior is much smarter than offering new customers first-time discounts that disappear after they buy from you once. The purpose of a loyalty program is to reward multiple purchases, not discount heavily to get the first purchase.
The Top 5 Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses (c) 2012 Veronika Noize. All rights reserved.